Passover and the Mangrove Tree
I began reading the book “Love in a World of Sorrow A Teenage Girl’s Holocaust Memoirs" by Fanya Gottesfeld Heller on the plane en route to the Florida Keys for a vacation. It was so engaging and riveting that I finished it the next day.
I have heard many testimonies of those who survived the cruelty and hatred of the holocaust and I am always so amazed at the resiliency of the Jewish people. Not that they came through the experience unscathed by any means but their tragedies didn't seem to define their futures for success. They are truly a remarkable people who have overcome the worst of human adversities with grace and dignity despite the attempts of many to rob them of these very virtues. They truly are a testimony of God’s sovereignty in this respect. These people who could have blamed God for all that they suffered continued to revere Him which I do believe is the secret to their miraculous survival.
A Vacation Revelation
I was at the local Winn Dixie grocery store in Key Largo and stumbled upon a cardboard display containing literature detailing the Pass Over celebration readings and activities. I made note that this very week we were vacationing was Pass Over Week and just so happens to coincide this year with the cultural Christian Holiday celebrated as Easter.
I took one of the booklets back to the Marina we were staying at and as I was reading the booklet I was so amazingly impressed by the focus of recitations, song, and general worship acknowledging God’s greatness, goodness, and sovereignty. I have become so used to our cultural form of worship that centers around what He does for us and how He makes us feel that it stood out to me. We worship God sometimes as if it were all about us. The Jewish people seem to know and understand that if God never did a thing for us ever again He is still worthy to be praised.
One example of this is a song that is sung during the Passover observance called “The Dayenu” It recites the many things that God has done for them and if He hadn’t, they sing, it would have been sufficient or enough.
How is it that in modern cultural Christianity we have permitted in arrogance to choose not to worship Him because we don’t like how life is going for us. We seem to worship God at times to the extent we believe He will benefit us. We tend to determine and measure God’s goodness by the yardstick of our personal circumstances. According to the Jewish people. God is good period! Not that they didn't have questions or despair at times but they maintained their faith and practice of it. I so admire their faithful attitudes and appreciation that truly God owes us nothing and anything he might choose to bestow upon us for good is a bonus and a blessing.
Passover is one of the most widely observed holidays of the Jewish People and is considered the first, foundational, and significant of all the feasts. If we view this in light of This Holidays symbol of Christ our Passover lamb’s death on the cross to secure our deliverance from sin and the Satan, we can see how significant and foundational it truly is
Christ Our Passover
“For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us” - 1 Corinthians 5:7
For no foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid which is Jesus Christ.”
— I Corinthians 3:11
The next thing I notice about the Passover observance is how many repetitions and recitations there are. It really is all about remembering. It reminds me of Jesus command
“Do this in remembrance of me
— Luke 22:19
It seems absurd that we would forget or similarly become apathetic to such a great salvation we have been given.
“How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation
— Hebrews 2:3
And yet that is exactly what we do, forget. It is my desire someday take part in a Passover Seder to view the tangible lessons that display so perfectly the purpose and power of the ultimate sacrifice through the richness of its symbols and observances.
The Mangroves Sacrificial Leaf
While in Florida we were introduced to the extremely common yet interesting trees of south Florida called the Mangroves. There were many fascinating facts about these trees but one, in particular, stood out to me in relationship to Passover.
Mangroves are the only trees that live in salt water and are able to make fresh water from salt water by depositing the salt which it intakes to what is known as "sacrificial" leaves these are certain leave on the tree that will absorb the salt and die and fall off the tree so the other leaves can live. What a spectacular picture of what Christ has done for us as the sacrificial lamb of God. If we think of the salt as sin and how without the sacrificial leaf the whole plant dies. So it is with us. Christ took on the sin of the world and became our sacrificial leaf.
who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.
— I Peter 2:24
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
— John 1:29
Another spiritual lesson from this tree is that it drops its roots to the ocean floor and takes hold of the bedrock and these roots become anchors. The fact that Christ died for us and became our sacrificial leaf should cause us to drop down our roots and grab hold of the bedrock of this revelation of forgiveness of sin through the sacrifice of God's one and only Son, and anchor our souls.
This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast
— Hebrews 6:19
The Mangrove is also known as "The Walking Tree" because of the roots are observable above the surface and appear to be standing or walking.
As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.
According to NtheFloridaKeys.com
"As the roots get thicker they begin to trap sand , sediment, rocks and shells. This builds up thick layers of land and becomes elevated from the surrounding sea bottom. This process allows one mangrove to grow into an island and it allows for existing islands to grow larger" (1)
...rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.
— Colossians 2:7
These strong root systems become a habitat for marine life and make for necessary food and nutrient. Most fish caught in the area spent time in the protected environmental root system of the Mangroves. I saw this as a picture of what the church is supposed to be.
Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord,
— Ephesians 2:19-21
He Turns Our Lives Into Something Purposeful and Meaningful
Because we have been brought near by His sacrificial blood
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
— Ephesians 2:13
This tree gives us another "useful" picture in that every part of the tree is useful.
"Fruits from the red mangrove are edible. Leaves have been used to make tea, as a medicine and feed for livestock. Wood from the red mangrove is strong and water resistant. It’s been used to make boats, furniture, pilings, and houses. The black’s flower produces nectar. Bee keepers like to place their hives near these to produce a great tasting honey. The bark was used for tannin and dyes. Charcoal was made from the dense wood of the black mangrove and the buttonwood. They’ve also been used as a safe place to tie up a boat during a hurricane or storm"
Christ came that we might have His life and live it abundantly and usefully. A life without Christ and His life giving purpose is a wasted life. His sacrifice paved the way for the plans and purposes that God had for us before time began to give us function in the body as individuals for the greater good of the whole body.
For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them...
— Romans 12:4-6
I am always so in awe how what God has created always testifies of Him and His ways so specifically and so clearly, just as we have seen in the mangrove tree. What He has made always has something to tell us about Him.
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,
— Romans 1:20
There are much more aspects to the Passover observance that speak to the details of Christ's death, resurrection and what that all means. I have included a video done by Jews for Jesus that touches on these very things.
Watch and enjoy.